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NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: President Obama smacks down Keystone XL jobs claims; EPA's McCarthy smacks down false choice of jobs vs. environment; Rand Paul and Chris Christie smack down each other; In Australia, winter is the new summer; 'Witches brew' of pesticides still killing bees; PLUS: Solar-powered battery breakthrough - but you'll never guess where it's being used ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Can GMO oranges save FL industry?; Internal EPA Report reveals disputes over fracking, water; Sunken tar sands oil still threatening Kalamazoo River; BP Oil Spill: Halliburton pleads guilty to destroying evidence; Feds details JPMorgan's criminal electricity market manipulation; Legal battles over land rights, pipelines increase; Does Lake Michigan's record low mark start of new era for Great Lakes?; FL natural gas pipeline explodes; Cashmere boom threatens snow leopards ... PLUS: Sea level rise is 'locking in quickly' ... and much, MUCH more! ...
The Department of Justice (DoJ) will not idly remain on the sidelines as the GOP seeks to illegally game the electoral system in the wake of what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder referred to as the "deeply disappointing and flawed" Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder.
That decision, which carved out the very heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by finding unconstitutional the formula used to determine which jurisdictions with a long history of racial discrimination are required to "pre-clear" new election laws with the federal government before they can be enacted, has been a dramatic "setback", as Holder described it, to the voting rights movement, and has even proven to be a great leap forward for vote suppressors.
But, in a speech last week to the National Urban League Conference in Philadelphia, Holder signaled his intentions to fight back against the activist Court:
And today I am announcing that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the State of Texas to a preclearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act...based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination that was presented last year in the redistricting case, Texas v. Holder – as well as the history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized – we believe that the State of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices.
The DoJ then promptly filed a July 25, 2013 "Statement of Interest" in Perez v. Texas, a federal court case challenging the imposition of new Congressional redistricting maps in the wake of the Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act, despite the fact that both the DoJ and a panel of federal judges nixed the same map last year after it was found to have been purposefully discriminatory just last year.
The DoJ argued in its filing last week that, because the evidence presented both in Perez and in Texas v. United States, revealed intentional violations of the 14th and 15th amendments in the redistricting schemes at issue, the court should impose a ten year preclearance requirement upon the State of Texas as an equitable remedy available pursuant to Section 3(c) of the VRA.
In short, while SCOTUS gutted the VRA's existing Section 4 formula for determining jurisdictions to be covered by Section 5 pre-clearance requirements, it left Section 3, which allows for jurisdictions to be added or "bailed in" to the list of those subject to preclearance intact. The DoJ now wants Texas added to the list of such jurisdictions.
It is of critical importance to note, however, that Holder's Urban League speech made clear that his intentions of pushing back were neither limited to Texas nor to Section 3.
"This is the Department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last," Holder vowed.
He then stated (emphasis added): "My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against discrimination wherever it is found."
As observed by University of California Irvine Law Prof. Rick Hasen, Holder's pledge to have the DoJ "use whatever tools it has remaining in its arsenal to protect minority voting rights" is "a big deal."
It's a "big deal" not just because of the creative use of Section 3 in Perez, but also because the DoJ is joining a case originally brought "under Section 2 of the [VRA] to enforce the guarantees of the [14th & 15th] Amendments against racial discrimination in voting." The DoJ's actions here suggests that they are finally prepared to add the power and resources of the federal government to legal efforts to protect the right to vote that had been primarily made during the last election cycle by privately-funded, public interest groups like the ACLU and League of Women Voters...
UPDATE 7/29/13: The arrestee seen above has now been identified, as 83-year old Robert Plummer, Jr. of Carthage NC. He is, according to We Act Radio, "a Korean War Vet who was one of the first African-American Navy UDT divers (AKA Frogmen, the precursors to the US Navy SEALs)."
When asked about his voting rights concerns in NC, as seen their video posted below, Plummer responds: "I am very despondent on that matter, because that's what I went to war for --- for protection of voting rights. And I can't see us going and saving democracy all over the world when our voting rights are being deteriorated right here in the United States."
He also says his arrest last week was not his first run in with the law. He says he was arrested on the Edmund Pettus bridge with Martin Luther King during the 1965 march for voting rights on Bloody Sunday in Selma, AL. Though, when asked for details by the reporter in the video, he demurred, saying, "I don't want to go back that far. I'm a young man!"
When asked if he was going to keep fighting for voting rights, he responded: "Most emphatically"...
UPDATE 7/30/2013: I've now spoken to Plummer, to invite him on to my radio show. Unfortunately, he has bible class tomorrow at his church, where he is a Deacon, and won't be able to join me. But he was an extraordinary pleasant man, with a sharp sense of humor. He confirmed the information above, and added these thoughts during our conversation when I asked why he was willing to be arrested at the Capitol. His reply:
The good Lord is looking down on us, and saying "why?" And we have no pertinent answer to give to the Lord because we are all trying to abide by the mosiac of laws. Even though the ten commandments were supposed to have been changed with the crucifixion of Jesus, but still, I see a form a crucifixion being done on our poor, disabled, youth, and our middle class.
He also added, as he was looking up the phone number of his church for me on his iPad and his new "32gigabites iPhone", that he is "half way up to speed on what is going on," because, after all, he says, "I'm an old pirate, man."
[This article now cross-published by Salon.]
Late Thursday night, the North Carolina state legislature approved a radical voter suppression bill on a party line vote. The measure, easily the most extreme anti-voter bill passed by any state since the Jim Crow Era, now heads to Republican Governor Pat McCrory for his signature. Court challenges, many of them, will most assuredly follow.
I discussed the Tar Heel State Republicans' horrendous voter suppression law as it moved through the state legislature earlier this week in an article focused on the public pushback against both it, and other radical laws being hurriedly enacted in the state while the Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the state house, as well as the Governorship there. It's the first time in 150 years that that has been the case, and the GOP is making all they can of it, voters be damned.
I also discussed the bill on this week's KPFK BradCast. But I want to highlight just how draconian this massive restriction on voting rights actually is in North Carolina, which, until the complete Republican takeover of the state government in 2012 (thanks to gerrymandering in 2010), had actually been a fairly progressive state by southeast standards, particularly in regard to voting laws.
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent gutting of the important pre-clearance provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act --- the provision which had required states with histories of racial discrimination, like NC, to obtain federal approval before making any changes to voting laws --- NC and other states now "freed" from the yoke of not being able to discriminate, have been on a tear to pass discriminatory laws previously denied under the VRA.
NC has now done that in a way that no other state has yet even tried. They have, in essence, included in this bill every conceivable voter suppression tactic that has ever been dreamed up over the past decade by the Republican Party --- and then some.
UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen described the bill as "a nightmare for voting-rights advocates."
It includes draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions (despite any evidence of polling place impersonation in the state), shortens the early voting period and eliminates NC's very successful same-day voter registration program. "But," Hasen adds, "it’s also a laundry list of ways to make it harder for people to vote, and which cannot plausibly be justified on antifraud grounds."
Just take a look at the list of some of the other provisions including in this "nightmare" of an anti-democratic --- as well as anti-Democratic --- voter suppression bill...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Another offshore drilling blowout in the Gulf; More tar sands oil spills in Alberta; Obama talks climate, clean energy and infrastructure; GOP just makes stuff up; Louisiana agency sues Big Oil over wetlands destruction; Young voters won't vote for climate change deniers; PLUS: Is the melting Arctic an "economic time bomb"? ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Winter is the new summer in Australia; The new climate activists; Palo Alto switches 100% renewable energy; Frackfinder mapping tool needs your help; Obama admin caves to industry on fracking rules; Feds halt mining in designated solar zones; Buffet says coal in permanent decline; WA approves oil train export terminal; Reports on the death of Peak Oil are greatly exaggerated ... PLUS: NASA Video: This is your country in 2100 ... and much, MUCH more! ...
A bi-partisan amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill sponsored by Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and former House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI), was defeated late today in the U.S. House of Representatives. The measure would have brought an abrupt halt to the NSA's warrantless blanket collection of Americans' telephone records. It failed by a narrow margin of 205 to 217.
The Amash-Conyers amendment represented the first Congressional challenge to the NSA's bulk collection of domestic phone records in the wake of recent disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The vote came just one day after a speech by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who has served on the the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee since January 2001, in which he not only warned about the unlimited scope of the NSA's ever-expanding surveillance capabilities but the unnecessary development of a secret body of laws that, he argued, threatens to eradicate the very essence of democracy and accountability.
Ironically, NSA Director General Keith Alexander, did his best to underscore Wyden's warnings. Where the Obama administration and other members of both the Senate and House Intelligence Committee publicly lobbied against Amash-Conyers, Alexander scheduled "a last-minute, members-only briefing" to lobby against the measure behind closed doors.
Alexander, whom James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factor: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, has described as "the most powerful person that's ever existed in the American intelligence community," took pains to insure that his own efforts to privately lobby against this public bill be classified as "Top Secret," thereby precluding public consideration as to the reasons why publicly-elected officials might refuse to rein in unfettered access to the telephone records of millions of law-abiding Americans.
Rather than look at today's vote as a defeat, the ACLU's Michelle Richards told The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman that the vote's narrow margin reflects "a 'sea change' in how Congress views bulk surveillance," describing the bi-partisan debate on the House floor as "a great first step."
Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who originally broke a number of the stories related to Snowden's disclosures, tweeted during the floor debate: "Edward Snowden did what he did to make everyone aware of all this, and to prompt precisely this debate. That was his motive." He also observed this irony, after the House Democratic leadership rallied against the amendment and the measure ultimately went down to narrow defeat: "A majority of Dems supported the Amash/Conyers amendment to defund NSA bulk spying - majority of GOP joined [with the White House]."
UPDATE 7/25/13: According to AP today, Congressional "Opponents of the National Security Agency's collection of hundreds of millions of Americans' phone records insist they will press ahead with their challenge to the surveillance program after a narrow defeat in the House"...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Deadly British heat wave; Deadly floods in India; US heat wave cuts power at nuclear plants; Radioactive water leaking from Fukushima; New EPA Administrator, new fights over fracking and emissions; PLUS: What could possibly go wrong?: Russia building floating nuclear power plants ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Globally, June was 2nd hottest on record: NASA; US Algae Company Turns Sewage Into Biofuel; Alberta tar sands spills: no end in sight; Discounts mean electric car costs near zero; Melting glaciers around the world experiencing ‘Jokulhlaup’; Wildfires spread across warming Arctic boreal forest; Animal welfare activists sue to overturn 'Ag Gag' law... PLUS: 'Elysium': For the wealthy, climate-gated communities. For the rest of us, whatever is left ... and much, MUCH more! ...
I've always wondered why non-Rightwing Christians have allowed Rightwingers to take "God" and "Jesus" as their own, particularly since progressive principles are far more in line with those said to be the teachings of Jesus.
The folks in North Carolina --- who are now under siege by Republican control of both congressional houses and the governorship for the first time in 150 years --- have been going about reclaiming the moral high ground with a series of massive (and growing larger) "Moral Monday" protests at the state house, so far resulting in about 900 arrests for civil disobedience as of this week's twelfth consecutive Monday protest.
The protests are being held by a wide coalition of groups in response to the radical Republican legislation --- much of it written out of state by the Koch-funded corporatist lobby, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) --- meant to see the state government shut down women's health clinics, cut education funding and, of particular note, suppress voters by truncating early voting, ending Sunday voting, banning NC's successful Election Day registration program, instituting tax penalties to parents whose children vote at their college residences, and by putting in place draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions. (See Ari Berman today at The Nation for more on the NC Republican's attempt to institute all of these "extreme voter suppression measures".)
At Salon, Kristin Rawls explains that the "Moral Monday" protests in NC, "that include support for LGBT and abortion rights", seem to be "confounding to the Tea Party", but not to the many groups of faith (as well as "atheists, agnostics and members of other faiths in attendance every week") who are finally taking back the moral high ground from the Rightwing hypocrites who have claimed it, but never earned it, for so much of the past decade.
It's an interesting read, and an interesting phenomenon that, Rawls notes, "is supported by a 150-organization coalition spearheaded by the NC-NAACP that includes everything from Occupy Raleigh to Planned Parenthood-NC to the NC Association of Educators."
Her point about why the voter suppression laws Republicans are now trying to pass are so important for the NC GOP radicals, is explained in this key passage...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Another major wildfire blazes in the West as heat wave bakes Maine to Minnesota; June 2013 2nd hottest ever recorded; Burning fossil fuels hampering our ability to burn fossil fuels; 'Climate Change Theatre' returns to U.S. Senate; Oil giants fight oil spill fines; Big banks caught manipulating energy markets; PLUS: Obama's EPA nominee Gina McCarthy finally approved in the U.S. Senate ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Koch Brothers retaliate against journalists they don't like; Birth defects higher near cattle feedlots; World Bank, Ex-Im Bank cancel funding for coal projects; Pee Power: UK scientists power cell phone battery with urine; Steam, radioactive water leak at Fukushima power plans; Aging reactors pose increased risks; India's 2013 floods 4th deadliest disaster in world history... PLUS: What could possibly go wrong?: Russia builds floating nuclear reactors in Arctic ... and much, MUCH more! ...
U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN), a one-time leading contender for the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination, may have topped herself with this one...and that is no easy feat. Steve Benen at MaddowBlog describes these remarks, as flagged by RightWingWatch today, as "one of the greatest Bachmann videos of all time"...
Here's the amazing transcript, and a very few remarks (not many are needed) on the astounding gibberish Bachmann offers, with apparent complete earnestness, in the above video...
Along the lines of citizens speaking up for themselves, as we heard in the audio posted earlier today of University of Wisconsin students peppering NSA recruiters on campus with some very tough questions...Here's a woman who was offering her thoughts to a Texas state legislative committee yesterday about their radical new anti-abortion bill they are trying to slam down Democrats' and citizens' throats.
The woman's comments, apparently, became no longer to the liking of the committee chair at some point, and so she was ordered hauled away by the cops.
If they had to take such extreme measures to avoid hearing this woman offer her opinion for a couple of minutes, after she waited her turn in line to do so, as per the rules, I guess she must be worth listening to. So, here ya go...
Good thing she wasn't a "Tea Partier". We'd be at war by now.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Death and destruction in Canadian oil train explosion; Record rain, floods paralyze Toronto; State Dept. doesn't know the Keystone XL pipeline's route; GOP opposition to EPA nominee softening?; PLUS: The Dutch solution to air pollution ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): China's coal pollution deadlier than thought; SW forests may never recover from mega-fires; Naive Ezra Klein: 'You can’t deny global warming after seeing this graph'; GMO marks 2013 World Food Prize winners; US hazardous chemical oversight system is seriously flawed; Global warming 'drive-by' twitter - once again, just shooting blanks; Koch Bros, Tea Party at odds over GA solar; Comprehensive paleoclimate study confirms 'Hockey Stick' Graph AGAIN ... PLUS: Study: Global warming likely to make hurricanes stronger & more frequent ... and much, MUCH more! ...
At the beginning of 2012, the Executive Director of the South Carolina State Election Commission demolished the claim, put forward by the state's Republican Attorney General, that some 953 votes in the state had been cast in recent elections by "dead people".
They hadn't, of course, and the claim was little more than a transparent ruse to try and "stuff the ballot boxes" in support of polling place Photo ID restrictions meant to disenfranchise largely minority, poor, elderly and student (read: Democratic-leaning) voters.
Unsatisfied with actual facts and stuff at the time, state Republicans tasked the State's Law Enforcement Division (SLED) with investigating the matter and, what do you know --- despite claims happily aired by Fox "News" from every Republican in the state, from the Governor to the AG to the party apparatchik last year --- it turns out zombie voters are still not voting in SC, no matter how many times the pretend claims are investigated.
After an 18-month probe, just before last week's holiday, when few
suckers, chumps, pawns, stooges, Republican Fox "News" viewers might notice, SLED quietly issued a report recommending no further action, and closed its investigation into the completely bogus claims after concluding none of the accusations were true --- as MSNBC's Al Sharpton was kind enough to highlight...
There once was a day when the Republican Party actually fought for legislation concerning actual, real things, right? I seem to recall such a day, though it seems so long ago now...
Before their recess for the July 4th holiday, the U.S. House rejected what has, for decades, been largely a no-brainer for the United States Congress: the federal farm subsidies bill.
This year, however, with a Congress as dysfunctional as it has ever been, even that legislative "gimme" has been stymied, for now, by the far Right Republican caucus hoping to slash even more of the food stamp benefits included the bill, and by progressive Democrats furious about cuts to the federal food assistance program that the GOP-controlled House already managed to write into it.
Before the break, the bill was defeated by a 195 to 234 vote margin in what served as a humiliating embarrassment for House Speaker John Boehner. But the $939 billion bill --- which includes both subsidies to farmers (mostly to "Big Ag") and federal food stamp program appropriations --- will soon be coming back, whether Boehner likes it or not.
And, before its return, the hypocrisy embedded in the "Tea Party" caucus' opposition to the bill needs to be highlighted. That hypocrisy is almost certainly best exemplified by one Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN).
Even the ordinarily staid New York Times was taken aback by the level of Fincher's hypocrisy that emerged when he quoted the Bible as justification for slashing food stamp benefits for the poor. He claims that assistance, somehow, amount to theft.
But the facts of Fincher's argument are even more embarrassing than that. The Times notes that Fincher himself has "collected nearly $3.5 million in subsidies from 1999 to 2012" in federal support for his 3,000 acre family farm.
"In 2012 alone, the data shows, Mr. Fincher received about $70,000 in direct payments, money that is given to farmers and farmland owners, even if they do not grow crops."
Even more remarkably, his argument in favor of cutting $20 billion in food stamps came during a debate over the bill in a U.S. House sub-committee which voted to increase subsidies to farmers by $9 billion in the wake of last year's record drought. That, of course, was before the reality of his own reliance on federal funding for his family farm was brought to light by the media...
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